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At 'Om' with the Beatles

(March 2008) posted on Mon Mar 03, 2008

Circa 1968 photographs adorn Liverpool John Lennon Airport.

click an image below to view slideshow

By Angela Prues

In a few weeks, Saltzman would return to the real world and his normal life, eventually growing his own documentary film company to become one of the largest in British Columbia. The photos were tucked away and all but forgotten with other pictures from that time in his life. For decades he did nothing with the photos, not even telling his closest friends about them. "I didn’t want to do anything more with them except let the experiences deepen," he says.

Years later, it was Saltzman’s daughter, Devyani, who set things in motion. She recalled hearing her father’s stories about the Maharishi as well as the Beatles, and asked to see the photographs. "Didn’t you tell me that you took some pictures of the Beatles?" she asked. "Can I see them?"

It took him three weeks to find them. "They sat in a brown cardboard box with other pictures. When I found them it was like they fell out of the lab that day. Thank God they were still in pristine condition," Saltzman says of the Ektachrome 35mm transparencies.

His daughter’s continued enthusiasm eventually led him to produce what would become a book edition of the images, with Penguin Press, in 2000. And then, in 2006, Saltzman and his wife, Patricia Aquino, self-published a limited-edition box set of The Beatles in India with higher-quality images, coupled with a DVD and CD.

Above us only sky

It was during Saltzman’s promotion of the new collection in London when he met Neil Pakey, the CEO of the Liverpool John Lennon Airport. Once Pakey saw Saltzman’s images, the two began collaborating to display them at one of Europe’s fastest-growing airports.

The former Speke Airport had been renamed in 2001, the first in the UK to be named after a single individual. But it wasn’t just Lennon’s name the airport carried; it was completely re-branded around Lennon. Its new logo includes the artist’s self-portrait and the "above us only sky" line, from Lennon’s "Imagine."

And that wasn’t all: A 7-foot bronze statue of Lennon sits on the main passenger walkway overlooking the check-in, while a 25-ton, 50-foot Yellow Submarine welcomes visitors at the front of the terminal building. The airport also displays two of Lennon’s suits and quotes from various Lennon songs installed in colored lettering above the check-in area and throughout the terminal building.